Bulawayo residents object to ZPC takeover of thermal power plant

BULAWAYO residents are objecting to attempts by the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to take over the city council-owned owned thermal power station arguing this was against the spirit of devolution.

ZPC recently applied for an amendment of the Bulawayo Power Station license to give it a 20 -year license to enable it to produce 120 megawatts of power to be fed into the national grid.

According to the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, residents and other interested stakeholders have up to January 17, to lodge objections. According to Zera, ZPC intends to boost electricity generation from the current 90MW to 120MW in the next two decades once its application is approved. Council has been battling to regain control of the station which was handed over to Zesa more than two decades ago.

“It is in this regard that there is a need for ZPC to do proper consultations with residents and the BCC who are the key stakeholders to this very important asset. ZPC has not been transparent in the manner they have been declaring actual incomes accumulating from Bulawayo Power Station,” Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) acting coordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said.

Ndlovu also argued attempts to nationalise the Bulawayo Power Station ran against the spirit of devolution as enshrined in the Constitution.

“Hence the nationalization of the power station will be the violation of the principles of devolution and thus acting ultra-virus to the constitution.
Therefore, it defeats the whole purpose of devolution if ZPC proceeds to amend their license and nationalise Bulawayo Power Station which is an essential asset to Bulawayo metropolitan province,” Ndlovu added.

Local governance expert Davison Muchandenyika said the Bulawayo and Harare thermal power stations were local authority assets which must not be tampered with without consent from key stakeholders.

“They (power stations) can’t be transferred at zero cost,” he said.

“A proper asset evaluation must be done if it’s going to be sold. If for a leased, councils should determine/yearly rentals. No need for national agencies to decide on behalf of the BCC.”

India in November last year extended a $23 million credit loan facility to the ZPC to boost power generation at the Bulawayo Power Station. ZPC currently operates four coal-fired power stations, Hwange, Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare thermal stations, and the hydro powered Kariba South Power Station.

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